January…it’s that time of year where we may have over-indulged, feel a bit tired and sluggish from all the festivities, and ready to kick-start 2019 with healthy eating and some good old-fashioned exercise. It’s also a good time to start something new, so if you are new to yoga, welcome! And be excited to start your new journey. If you are a more experienced yogi and just feel like your practice has slipped a bit over the holidays, welcome back!
We may all feel like we need a bit of a detox. Often we hear about how yoga can detox the body, but how?
Our bodies are designed to process and eliminate waste, but often this process can be thwarted by factors including stress, illness, an unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, smoking and lack of exercise, which can all negatively impact on the circulatory, digestive and lymphatic systems.
Yoga targets these systems and helps them to work efficiently; to more effectively eliminate waste from our bodies.
Twists in yoga are particularly helpful for detoxing, as they apply pressure to the internal organs and massage them, first restricting blood flow to the area so that when the twist is released, fresh, oxygenated, nutrient-filled blood flows to the organs. Similarly, backbends such as cobra, locust and bow pose create pressure on the abdomen which encourages digestion, aiding the elimination of waste from the body. Similarly, forward bends gently compress the digestive tract, stimulating blood flow to the region and massaging the tract to encourage digestion. Inversions such as headstand, shoulder stand and handstand, help to drain lymph fluids from the legs and to re-circulate them through the whole body, encouraging the immune system to be working to its full potential. Inverting the body also helps to stimulate your thyroid gland, encouraging a boost in metabolism.
Finally, just finding stillness and focusing on your breath, the critical component of yoga, means that your parasympathetic nervous system is triggered, or your body’s “rest and digest” response, as opposed to the “fight or flight” response. This means all the systems of your body responsible for eliminating waste and toxins, get the time and energy from your body they need to do so. Your blood and hormones aren’t focused on stimulating heart rate or protecting your body from danger, instead, they can target the areas they are designed to help, like the digestive system, the lymphatic system, and the circulatory system.
Practicing yoga regularly should help you to feel energised, calm, and refreshed, and ready to face the new year.